Top 10 things to do in Ecuador

Posted on the 1st March 2018

Lattitude volunteers love going to Ecuador, and that’s partly down to the fantastic community placement opportunities we have developed there, but also due to it being a very diverse and interesting country. There is SO much to do there! Whether you’re going to Ecuador to improve your Spanish skills, impact the lives of disadvantaged children or to have something extra to put on your CV, there are some great things to do in your spare time too. Let us go through our top 10 things to do in Ecuador…

1) Middle of The World

Ecuador – so named because the equator runs straight through it – gives you the opportunity to have one foot in the northern hemisphere, and the other in the southern! The Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) is a monument located close to the capital city Quito with a museum about all things Latitude 0°0’0”!

Gap Year in Ecuador - the equator
Lattitude volunteers during their orientation week

2) The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are on most people’s bucket lists! These fascinating islands are located around 600 miles off Ecuador’s mainland coast and give you the opportunity to spot some of their most famed species such as the Galapagos Tortoise, Sea Lions and the Blue-footed Booby! It’s quite an expensive trip so if you’re on a budget and still hoping to see some of Ecuador’s incredible wildlife, Isla de la Plata is an affordable day-trip alternative as it’s much closer to the mainland.

Photo taken by Lattitude volunteer Anna Stevens at The Galapagos Islands

3) Cotopaxi Volcano

Having erupted more than 50 times in the last 300 years, Cotopaxi is one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes. It’s a challenging climb to the summit and hiring a guide is necessary, even if you’re not planning to go all the way. If climbing isn’t your thing, admiring the view of Cotopaxi from afar is also well worth it – on a clear day you can see it from Quito.

Cotopaxi, an active volcano, at sunset with horses in the foreground
Source: https://www.nextstoplatinamerica.com/cotopaxi-adventure/

4) Otavalo Market

The indigenous Otavalo people are known for weaving beautiful multi-coloured textiles, which are sold at the famous Saturday market. Take a 2 hour bus from Quito and pick up some traditional souvenirs and gifts.

Source: http://www.southamericatravel.agency/packages/day-tour-otavalo-market-cuicocha-lake-cotacachi/

5) Teleferico Quito

Ride the gondola from the edge of the city to 3,945 m above sea level! After a 20 minute ascent, gaze at the impressive views of Quito below.

Source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/ecuador/quito

6) Quilotoa

Quilotoa is another volcano, which following a catastrophic eruption 600 years ago, left a 250m deep crater lake. The beautiful turquoise waters and the indigenous communities who farm the surrounding land make this a must-see place. You might even spot a llama or two!

Source: http://www.galapagosparadise-dreams.com/web/index.php/tour/item/quilotoa

7) Baños

Baños de Agua Santa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ecuador. Known as the “gateway to the Amazon”, this place is famed for his outstanding natural beauty. It is also home to a huge variety of adventure sports including rafting, kayaking, bungee-jumping and even the “Swing At The End Of The World” (see photo below)! To wind down after an adventure-filled day, visit the famous natural hot springs where Baños gets it’s name.

Photo taken by Lattitude volunteer Anna Stevens

8) Ingapirca

Known as the Ecuadorian version of Machu Piccu, Ingapirca isn’t quite as impressive, but it’s still Ecuador’s largest site of ancient ruins. Located about an hour and a half from Cuenca, Ingapirca is well worth a visit to learn more about Ecuador’s Incan past.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingapirca

9) Yasuní National Park

Yasuní National Park is located in the Amazon basin, and is un-officially known as the most biologically diverse places on Earth. We highly recommend booking an ecolodge and sustainable tour of the park who will provide you with an itinerary of spotting wildlife! You’ll be able to see monkeys, sloths, alligators and hundreds of species of birds.

Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/amazonian-rainforest-one-most-biodiverse-places-earth-180955364/

10) Carnaval

Carnaval is a huge event in Ecuador, celebrated at the start of Lent. Each city hosts its own celebrations, but everyone should be aware… you’re going to get wet! For years there were no “rules” as such, people would douse each other with water, flour, foam, paint and even eggs, even if you were on your way to work! Recently enforced rules mean you can’t play Carnaval in buildings, on public transport or with strangers, but away from major cities these rules are regularly broken! If you’re going to be in Ecuador at this time of year, there’s no point trying to hide from Carnaval, you may as well embrace it!

Source: https://www.ecuatraveling.com/how-to-celebrate-carnival-in-ecuador-fiesta-mayor-in-guaranda/

 

So there you have it… our top 10 things to do in Ecuador. And there are still MANY more things, we’re just scratching the surface! Could you see yourself spending 5 months in this beautiful country? Want to use your skills to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in the cities of Quito and Cuenca, while getting to explore and travel in your free time?

We’re still accepting applications for both our August 2018 and February 2019 departures to Ecuador. Find out more about Lattitude’s Ecuador placements here and complete the online application here.

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